SI Vault
September 13, 1999
Melee at Mile High Field of Screams
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September 13, 1999


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Will Sammy Sosa be The first player whose homers in a season outnumber his team's wins? Sosa's Cubs, coming off a 6-24 August that was the worst month in their 124-year history, are as thrilling as watching paint dry. Here's a look at their less-than-artistic history.


Big Move





Former Chicago Orphans became Cubs in 1907

Went 530-235 from 1906 to '10 and played in four World Series

Won 1908 Series—a feat still cited on T-shirts at Wrigley Field

Lost 1945 Series and vanished from Fall Classic for good

Blue Period

Re-adopted old-style blue pinstripes on home whites after going 60-94 in '56

Traded Lou Brock in '64 for Ernie Broglio—who'd go 7-19 as a Cub—and two guys who were even worse

Led National League East for 155 days during glorious summer of '69

Lost eight straight down the stretch to finish eight games behind the Miracle Mets


Andre Dawson gave club a blank contract for '87 season

MVP Dawson had 49 homers, 137 RBIs for $500,000

Won division in '84 and led Padres 2-0 in best-of-five NLCS

Lost '84 NLCS 3-2; finished last in Dawson's MVP year


Dealt Rafael Palmeiro for Mitch Williams in '89

52 Cubs saves for Williams, 356 homers and counting for Palmeiro

Won 93 games and cruised to division title in '89

Lost NLCS to Giants, leaving Series prey to killer earthquake


Got Sammy from White Sox for George Bell in '92

Dead last this season despite division-high $60 million payroll

Beat Giants in a one-game wild-card playoff last year

Sosa had 58 homers through Monday; Cubs had 55 wins

Melee at Mile High
Field of Screams

Would you spray Mace at someone to save a pair of goalposts? That was the dilemma Denver police confronted last Saturday night at Mile High Stadium, and they didn't hesitate. Faced with a bunch of rowdy Colorado State fans who couldn't wait to celebrate the Rams' 41-14 upset of Colorado, the cops cut loose with Mace and tear gas, touching off a skirmish that left several fans hurt and hundreds more running for cover. "It was like being in a war," said Colorado cornerback Ben Kelly.

With a minute left in the game, police in riot gear had filed onto the northeast corner of the field while joyous Colorado State fans chanted, "Goalpost! Goalpost!" The cops had no intention of letting them reach their goal—the Super Bowl champion Broncos, Mile High's primary tenants, had asked the city to protect the field. Boos, bottles and crushed beer cans rained down on the officers as some fans chanted, "Let's get gassed!"

"They tried to rush the field and were told to get back," said police lieutenant Tony Ryan. "They didn't, and Mace was employed. It was either that or let them have the field." One tear gas canister was thrown from the stands back at the cops like a visitor's home run ball at Wrigley Field. "Little kids were holding on to their moms, trying to get away from the tear gas," a spectator told the Denver Post.

Less than 10 yards from the spot where Colorado coach Gary Barnett held a postgame press conference, the Post reported, an asthmatic woman gasped. "I couldn't breathe," she said. "I've never been so scared in my life." When the white smoke cleared, 27 fans had been arrested and at least four were hospitalized after hyperventilating or being gassed or trampled.

Barnett and police captain RA Ryan blamed fans for the trouble, while winning coach Sonny Lubick questioned the cops' zeal. "I wish the police had let all our supporters come down and give us a big hug," said Lubick, "but I guess it's against policy here to let any fans on the field."

Ciccarelli Hangs It Up
Dino Was A Dinosaur

He was not a graceful skater. He didn't have a powerful shot, he wasn't a skillful puck handler and, at 5'10", 185 pounds, he couldn't muscle his way into scoring position. Yet Dino Ciccarelli, who retired last week after 19 NHL seasons with five teams, somehow scored 608 goals to rank ninth on the alltime list. He will go to the Hall of Fame thanks to a little nastiness and a whole lot of guts.

To say Ciccarelli bothered opponents is like calling a tiger shark in the bathtub a nuisance. Loved by his teams' fans, despised by foes, he fought for space around the net—he circled and nipped opponents until they gave ground, rammed them and thwacked them and never flinched when they swatted back, and when the puck came his way, he flicked it into the net. A master of the so-called garbage goal, he fed offer-rant shots, loose pucks and rebounds. But collecting garbage in rough neighborhoods can be hazardous duty. His chronically bad back limited Ciccarelli to 14 games for the Florida Panthers last season, and they bought out his contract in July. He was driving near his home near Detroit last week, his back throbbing, when he decided he'd had enough.

Sitting in a spare, sweat-scented equipment room near the Detroit Red Wings' clubhouse four springs ago, during the Wings-New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup finals, Ciccarelli looked handsome but worn, his swarthy, nicked-up face darkened further by a permanent scowl. He spoke of shattering his right leg as an amateur in 1978 and getting passed over in the NHL draft. He hitched on with the Minnesota North Stars two years later and soon began scoring big goals and going snarl-to-snarl with established stars like Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kevin Lowe. In '95, sitting in that equipment room and looking as scuffed and dented as some of the Red Wings' gear, Ciccarelli recalled good times—leading the North Stars to the finals as a rookie—and bad times, like being jailed for a couple of hours in '88 for bludgeoning Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Richardson on the ice, and pleading guilty that same year to indecent exposure in Eden Prairie, Minn., after a neighbor reported she had repeatedly seen him expose himself. That incident still haunted him.

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